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Bigger is better, at least in the Redskins draft room

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Bigger is better, at least in the Redskins draft room

Ends up bigger is better, at least that's the notion coming from the Redskins war room. Through two days and three rounds of the NFL Draft, 'Skins GM Scot McCloughan has made good on his promise to build a bigger, stronger roster.

In the first round Washington selected Brandon Scherff, a tackle from the University of Iowa. While most projections pegged Scherff to go inside the Top 10, some were surprised McCloughan tabbed Scherff at five while USC's Leonard Williams was still on the board. What is known about Scherff is toughness, and what is obvious is size. At 6'5", 320 lbs., Scherff immediately becomes the biggest guard on the Redskins roster, and ranks between Trent Williams and Morgan Moses as the biggest tackle on the roster. McCloughan and coach Jay Gruden talked about a hard nosed run game, and Scherff should immediately step in and help that cause.

Friday night, McCloughan made two more picks, and one trade. Throughout the run up to the draft process, the GM made clear his desire for 10 picks, and by trading down 26 spots in the third round with Seattle, he accomplished his 10 pick goal. The trade came after the selection of Mississippi State defensive end Preston Smith in the second round.

MORE 'SKINS: SMITH DROPPED JAWS AT THE COMBINE

Where Smith will play in the 'Skins 3-4 defense may still be up for debate, it looks like outside linebacker, but one thing is certain: Smith is another mountain of a man. Listed at 6'5" and 270 lbs., Smith immediately becomes the biggest linebacker on the Redskins roster, outweighing last year's second round pick Trent Murphy by 10 pounds. And Gruden said the team might like to see Smith put on more weight. 

"We feel like he’s still a young kid, growing, and there’s still a lot we can build upon with his body frame with the way it is," Gruden said Friday night. "Very long arms, he’s an explosive player."

Sure, Smith is huge, but he will not tower over other players in his position group. But guess who will: Redskins third round pick Matt Jones. A running back out of Florida, Jones is 6'2" and 235 lbs. and known for his tenacity as a pass blocker and downhill run style. Of the current backs on the 'Skins roster, none are taller than 5'10", though incumbent starter Alfred Morris packs 225 lbs. on his 5' 10" frame. Still, Washington sorely needs a back strong in pass protection, and Jones can provide that day one.

"We liked his attitude. We liked what he knew about football and his passion for the game and his running style," Gruden said of Jones. "He’s a little bit different than what we’ve had around here. He’s a downhill, smash-mouth type runner. He’s a physical kid."

Picking up on a trend here? Through three picks McCloughan is committed to making the Redskins bigger and more physical, quite a departure from the zone-blocking speed schemes of the Shanahan era. And with seven picks left on Saturday, expect more braun to head to Redskins Park. 

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

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10 Questions in 10 Days: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

10 Questions in 10 Days: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

No. 5: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

No rookie draft pick excited the Redskins fan base like Derrius Guice since Robert Griffin III came to Washington back in 2012. That's a fact. 

Guice slipped during the draft to near the end of the second round, a position much too late for a player with his talent. Rumors emerged that he had character issues, but in the months since April's selection, they seem unfounded. In quick time, Guice has emerged as a Redskins fan favorite and has performed plenty of charitable acts.

So, moving past the erroneous off-field questions, it's time to manage expectations for what Guice can do on the field. 

DJ Swearinger recently said he expects Guice to make the Pro Bowl and rush for more than 1,000 yards. As a rookie. (Listen here)

That's not unheard of, last year rookie Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rush yards. In 2016, Ezekiel Elliott did the same thing. Rookie running backs can step in and produce right away in the NFL, unlike some positions that usually bring more of a learning curve. 

Can Guice do that?

The first and most important questions will be health and durability. Guice dealt with lingering knee injuries last year at LSU, and the Redskins will need him fully healthy. A 1,000-yard season is not unrealistic if Guice plays a full 16-game season. It would require rushing for about 65 yards-per-game. 

The bigger key is opportunities. 

How many carries will Guice log in 2018? Early on in the season, Guice might still be learning pass protection in the Redskins scheme, and Jay Gruden will not tolerate missed assignments that result in big hits on QB Alex Smith.

If Guice can lock in on blitz pickup, 200 carries seems reasonable. Remember that Chris Thompson will still be a featured part of the Redskins offense, and Rob Kelley will get chances too. 

Last season, Samaje Perine led all rushers with 175 carries. He didn't do much with the chances, averaging just 3.4 yards-per-carry. Kelley had 62 carries before injuries shut his season down after parts of seven games. 

Combine Perine and Kelley's carries, and then things start to get interesting. With 230 carries, at an average of 4 yards a pop, Guice starts to approach 1,000 yards.

One problem with extrapolating too much data from last season is the crazy amount of variables. Late in the year, with Perine largely ineffective and a very beat up offensive line, the Redskins simply couldn't produce on the ground. In their last five games of 2017, the Redskins never rushed for more than 100 yards. They averaged just 60 yards-per-game on the ground during that stretch, including a season low 31 rush yards against Arizona in December. 

The line can't be that beat up again, right?

Guice has to be able to deliver more than Perine, right?

If the answers to those questions are yes, then a 1,000-yard season seems possible for Guice in 2018. 

One misnomer from the Redskins 2017 campaign emerged that Washington simply did not run the ball well or enough. In fact, early in the year when the Redskins looked like a possible playoff team, they ran the ball quite well. In three of the first four games, Washington went over 100 yards on the ground, including 229 rush yards in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Guice might get to 1,000 yards in 2018. It's no sure thing, and there are plenty of variables, but it's possible. That hasn't happened in Washington since Alfred Morris, and would be a very welcome sight. 

The rookie runner has invigorated the Redskins faithful, and that's before he even steps on the field. If Guice can produce, the fans will go crazy.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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